Bridget Jones at 80

Calorie counting and man chasing in the golden years.

Published February 29, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Monday 15 March, 2045

135 lbs. (gaah! brochures suggested Southwestern cooking was low in fat!), calories 4,500 (not entirely self's fault), number of calories attributed to Russell Stover chocolates forced upon self by unctuous nursing staff operating under mistaken belief that sweets are last pleasure afforded old people 2,500, shags proving otherwise 0 (not since 2030, if you must know), gentleman callers 0 (unless counting Alzheimer's patient from Long Term Care who wandered into self's room toward dawn and proceeded to urinate in self's underthings drawer), potential gentleman callers 1, cigarettes 73 (not v. good, though a little late in day, it seems to self, to be worrying about emphysema, lung cancer, etc.).

6:15 a.m. Grrr. Sunny again. Doesn't it ever bloody rain in this country?! Beginning to regret entire Arizona experiment, transatlantic move, etc. Never mind urinating delusional. Male/female ratio positively abysmal. Fail to understand allure of sport (golf) that requires trolley rides between each shot. No place to shop, hospital trinket stores not included. And what is it with the bolo ties out here?!!!!

6:30 a.m. Up and dressed. At 76 -- OK, 80 -- figure have no time to waste lolling around bed, especially alone  Gaah! Telephone.

Was Jude, calling from Assisted Living.

"Bridge. You up too?" she squawked into the receiver.

"Now I am," I growled. Never mind was already up. Sometimes Jude is so self-centered!

"What?" Is also hard of hearing, though still really skinny -- the lucky bitch!

"Never mind."

"I was just heading down to Early Bird Breakfast," she continued. "Thought you might want to join."

"Thanks, anyway," I sniffed, "but I'm on a diet." (Was true at time.)

"Oh, come on, Bridge," she crowed righteously. "At our age does weight really matter?"

"It's bad enough being old and wrinkled," I demurred. "Add fat to the equation, and I fail to see the point of going on!"

"You can just drink coffee. I'll rouse Shazz. See you downstairs in 15."

"Whatever." Figured had nothing better to do.

6:45 a.m. Early Bird Breakfast. Decided one jelly doughnut wouldn't kill me. Decided two jelly doughnuts wouldn't kill me either. Didn't even realize third jelly doughnut was in mouth, as became so preoccupied with conversation at hand -- whether or not women who date Terminal Patients are masochistic. Shazz says not necessarily, and that beggars can't be choosers. Jude says definitely yes, and that dating Terminal Patients gives new meaning to concept of "Just for Now Girl." Thought both had point.

7:30 a.m. Shuffleboard. Ought to rename "Shufflebored." Though did make acquaintance of moderately attractive retiree by name of Jim! Used to work in "new media" -- albeit back when new media was still new. Only worrisome detail: feels need to dress in tie and jacket, though at least 20 years past retirement age. Perhaps never felt like a "real man" except in office environment. Wonder why not. Still, compared with average geezer-in-residence, is clearly Major Catch. At least wears "normal" as opposed to bolo tie. Plus, pants are belted at waist level, as opposed to somewhere up near armpits.

8:30 a.m. Back to room for quick "touch up." Ohmigod! Horrified to discover dentures coated with dark purple goo, giving self appearance of Halloween pumpkin designed to terrify small children! Why didn't Shazz or Geezer tell me? Beginning to think so-called friends are trying to sabotage self's last chances for twilight romance. Telephone.

"Oh, hello, darling." Grrr. Was age-defying mother, calling from London. Wish she'd fucking die already! "Having a nice morning at the bingo table?"

Is apparently determined not merely to outlive me, but to humiliate me in the process.

"Actually, shuffleboard," I mumbled toothlessly.

"Honestly, Bridget, you're really dating yourself," she trilled condescendingly. "Ricardo and I have just come back from a weeklong virtual canyoning expedition to Tehran."

"That's great, Mum," I chirped enthusiastically. Anything to get the old slut off the phone. "But I'm actually on my way out right now."

"Where to?" she cackled mercilessly. "Intensive Care?"

Hung up.


10:00 a.m. Hurrah! Day trip to Bisbee! V. relieved to be vacating premises, if only to be rid of Nurse "I Have Made It My Mission in Life to Dispense Russell Stover Chocolates to Enfeebled Geriatrics" Brittany for a few hours.

2:00 p.m. Fail to understand big deal about Bisbee. But really, does anyone care about the history of coal mining? Also, what's with all the arts and crafts types peddling turquoise toe rings?

3:00 p.m. V. relieved to get back on bus. Though was interested to learn of existence in Bisbee of local chapter of Hemlock Society. That said, think won't facilitate premature death until tomorrow, or perhaps the next day, as spent delightful bus ride home playing footsie with Jim! Said self reminded him of a young Elizabeth Hurley. Needless to say, Jude sat across aisle rolling eyes, as is convinced he'll dump self for first cute young 70-something that comes his way. May be right. On other hand, Jim going blind (cataracts, inoperable), raising possibility that may not even notice appearance of next cute young 70-something. (Fingers crossed.)

By Lucinda Rosenfeld

Lucinda Rosenfelds first novel will be published by Random House in September.

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